Shaun Waugh

A Second Look

17 August - 15 September 2018

Shaun Waugh foregrounds the photographic medium as a primary subject in his work. The exhibition A Second Look invites the viewer to encounter Waugh’s image constructions while reconsidering the histories, technologies and conventions of photography though which phenomena are made visible and presented for spectatorship. Waugh skilfully weaves an engagement with recent advances in camera technologies, algorithms involved in contemporary post-production, and the digital artefacts which can result from their interpretive processes.

In the Still Life series, the viewer at once encounters these semi-transparent objects – with their scratched and undulating surfaces of injection-moulded ribs and bubbles – as well as reflected and refracted light captured by the lens. This dynamic evokes a sense that we are not simply seeing objects, but also optics themselves. We are looking at looking.

Though difficult to discern, these images also contain digital artefacts. Normally considered errors, Waugh allows these artefacts to remain: as traces of the process of making in digital space, and markers of the ways in which evolving technologies impact the aesthetic construction of images – central to photography since its inception. The layering of these images of transparent forms confuse figure-ground relationships, creating a dynamic push-and-pull within. Further, the photographs’ faint blue-green cast and the occasional rainbow fringe imbue them with an ethereal feeling, echoed in the reflective properties of their chromed silver frames.

In Lens Array 1 and Lens Array 2, image compositing occurs in an entirely different way. In these works, we can perceive fragments of an enigmatic object, yet must synthesize what appears to be a multitude of perspectives in order to attempt a reconstruction of it. Here we encounter a kind of contemporary photographic cubism or futurism – an object viewed from multiple perspectives, yet which retains an elusive quality – and experienced more as a sensation than a recognition of a discernible thing.

While his images critically engage the still life and landscape genres, Waugh also turns the lens reflectively back on photography itself. Here we may experience photography as a dynamic mix of raw data, the everyday and the stuff of spectacle.